My 15 year old son, Ian and myself were spotlighting along the road
between Willi Retreat and Warren ( in Central Western NSW) on Saturday
the 10th June. We had seen 3 foxes, a couple of galahs and some
magpie-larks nests when we saw the car coming towards us stop. As we
drove past the blue light flashed so we stopped.
The conversation went something like this:
Police: Can I see your drivers licence?
Police: Where are you from ?
Police: Where are you staying?
Me: Willi Retreat
Police: What are you doing?
Me: Bird watching
Police: What do you expect to see at night? (very sceptical tone)
Me: Owlet Nightjars, Barn Owls, Tawny Frogmouths
Police: You don?t need to spotlight for Owlet Nightjars, we see them on
the road all the time.
Police: We have seen a couple tonight and we must have seen 20 last
Me: Where did you see the last one.
Police: About 10 km back. Do you have in weapons in the car?
Me: Of course not.
Police: So you are not pig shooting?
After convincing the police we were not shooting pigs (apparently there
was a pig shooting competition at Tottenham and last year there was
trouble in this area), we headed off. After a km or so a bird flew over
the car. After a quick U turn we spotted a Tawny Frogmouth in a dead
tree near the road. After another km, lo and behold, an Owlet Nightjar
in the middle of the road. Now I have only previously seen Owlet
Nightjars in flight, so I was totally unprepared to see this tiny,
delicate bird a bit smaller than a miner. We crept up so the bird was
only a metre in front of the car so we had absolutely magic views.
We drove another 3-4 km and turned around. In much the same spots we saw
the Nightjar and the Frogmouth again.
We returned to Willi Retreat to tell my wife about the encounter with
the police and the subsequent sighting. We were half way through a cup
of tea, when a vehicle pulls up. Its the police. ?Don?t tell me they are
checking up on us? was my first thought.
The policeman reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out wait for it
- an Owlet Nightjar. ?Looked what we caught for you?. After a close
examination and a picture, we released the nightjar, gave the policemen
a cup of tea and had a very interesting chat about birds and Warren.
Footnote: Is this usual behaviour for Owlet Nightjars to be on the
We found no dead Owlet Nightjars on the road the next day but the police
say they see lots killed at night. We did, however, see more than a
dozen dead foxes, so maybe the foxes come onto the road to get the road
killed Owlet Nightjars and become victims themselves.
8 Sherston Close Niagara Park NSW Australia
Phone 61-243- 627189
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